Busting Brackets

Gonzaga Basketball: 4 biggest takeaways from 9-4 start through 2023-24 season

Gonzaga Basketball starts WCC play, with plenty of work to do. Here are some takeaways from the Bulldogs' non-conference results.

Continental Tire Seattle Tip-Off - Connecticut v Gonzaga
Continental Tire Seattle Tip-Off - Connecticut v Gonzaga / Conor Courtney/GettyImages
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2. Anton Watson is the team’s best player… can that work overall?

Technically, Wyoming transfer Graham Ike leads the team with 14.5 ppg and 8.1 rpg. But from a game-to-game basis, Watson has clearly been the team’s MVP. His production is just behind Ike’s with 14.2 ppg and 7.5 rpg, along with 2.5 apg on 55% shooting from the field, along with 10/22 shooting from deep.

After playing second-fiddle in the frontcourt to the likes of Chet Holmgren and Drew Timme, Watson is at least co-sharing the offensive touches with Ike inside. He’s had 8+ pts in each game, including a career-high 32 pts in a big win over UCLA, along with 13 pts, 13 rebs, and 5 stls, in a loss to Washington.

Just as important has been the defensive impact Watson has had in 30 mpg. He’s had to be careful due to foul trouble, with four games of four fouls called against him. The fact that he has more steals (20) than turnovers (18) shows how consistent a player he’s been on both ends and how many holes Watson can fill on a team with shallow depth.

Still, Watson only showed against the Bruins he can be a go-to option on offense. In the other games in the second half, he wasn’t able to carry the team through scoring droughts. Ike is probably the preferred player for that but even he has his struggles. Gonzaga still needs Watson to shine to win in league play but it’s going to have to be a group effort for the next couple of months.